Letters to the Editor

Questions for council

Dear Editor,
The Clarkston News asked several relevant questions of the candidates for Village of Clarkston City Council as published in last week’s edition. I am appalled the answers from the incumbent council members are so uninformative and in some cases outright wrong. Even worse is candidate Marsh who refused to answer any questions.
To the question of the city’s current legal issues in the Michigan Court of Appeals, incumbent candidates, Haven and Kneisc did not really answer. They implied the information is somehow readily available. It is not in the meeting minutes and information, although some can be found in the Clarkston News. Marsh did not respond at all. If this information is so readily available, why will none of them talk about it? Do they know how important these issues are?
In addition to this secrecy, the city continues to spend our tax dollars without the required public approvals. This is in violation of state law, city charter and city ordinances. We cannot afford to do many of the things needed in our city while individual members of the city government continue to spend city funds they have no legal right to spend. The proof is in the official city records and those running for re-election are complicit, their silence indicating approval.
The current parking, traffic, financial, and legal problems in the city are directly caused by the actions and inactions of the incumbents running for re-election; Haven, Kneisc, Marsh, and not up for election this year, Catallo. These problems are being resolved by the new members of the council; Percival, Detkowski and Wylie. We should not re-elect council members who cause problems and then have no ability to solve.
Look at the public record, listen to the recordings of the council meetings, attend council meetings and then decide. Results matter and those running for re-election have little good to show for their time in office. They do not deserve our support or vote. I will be voting for Scott Reynolds to be another new and more productive member of the city council.
Cory Johnston

Reader calls for careful review of city contracts

Dear Editor,
Clarkston City Council will vote in the Oct. 23 meeting whether to go into closed session, hidden from public view. In a sense, council will be voting whether to continue the cover-up of the 18 documents that the city attorney does not want divulged.
Council persons David Marsh, Jason Kneisc and Sharron Catallo appear to favor the public not knowing. Why do they choose to be complicit in keeping the truth from the public?
It is difficult to keep secrets in the City of the Village of Clarkston, but city attorney Tom Ryan seems to be trying. When questioned by Councilperson Sue Wylie in the 9/11/17 city council meeting, Ryan acknowledged he has withheld 18 documents from a Freedom of Information Act request.
It is Ryan who invoiced the city for his work related to the 18 documents; did not seek approval to withhold the documents from the FOIA request; and has been unwilling to disclose the contents of the documents to fellow city officials.
Ryan said the documents involved another attorney. The subject(s) of the documents has (have) not been disclosed. No attorney-client privilege issue here as attorney Ryan’s client is the city.
Although Ryan invoiced the city, and the city paid him, the city does not own the documents, according to attorney Ryan. In contrast, city council has recently approved three contracts with their planning consultant Carlisle-Wortman. All three contracts include an ownership clause stating “All documents or other materials prepared … under this agreement shall be considered the property of the client.” Not so with attorney Ryan.
It is unclear if Ryan is embarrassed by the 18 documents or if he is protecting his own reputation, the other parties and/ or the subject(s) of the 18 documents.
It is puzzling why the city is choosing to remain in the lawsuit – the current stage is estimated to run for a minimum of another 12 months. The Detroit Free Press is contesting the city position. The public reputation of the COVOC appears to be at risk.
All this contrary to the city’s recently renewed commitment to transparency. A nice city is a transparent city. Does Ryan, as a city official, not have an obligation to protect the reputation of the COVOC? He apparently has no qualms about the city becoming the state “poster-child” for keeping information from the public.
Clarkston citizens have been footing the bill for Ryan’s continued involvement. Michigan citizens are footing the bill for Clarkston being represented by Michigan Municipal League attorneys who have racked up hours.
The value for withholding information from Clarkston and Michigan’s citizens appears to be significant.
And city officials were puzzled why the premium for the City’s “errors and omissions” insurance, provided through the Michigan Municipal League, recently increased by 52 percent. The costs of hiding secrets will continue to grow.
Chet Pardee

New attorney needed, reader says

Dear Editor,
As a resident, tax payer and regular attendee of council meetings in the City of the Village of Clarkston, I am so tired of never being answered by our representatives about the questions we ask, tired of the favoritism and nepotism that is so blatant, and that private citizens are being accused of a “vendetta” against the city because they ask questions.
I am also very concerned, given the FOIA lawsuit the city has been defending for the last 18 months with respect to the release of documents in the sole possession of the city attorney regarding 148 N. Main Street, what other documents the city attorney has kept from the city council and residents over the last 30 years.
I raised questions about 148 N. Main at numerous City Council meetings because charges were showing up on the attorney’s billing statement and was told by the city attorney there was “nothing” going on. We now know that wasn’t true. I feel that new legal representation is necessary as a trust has been broken. I believe that change is not only necessary for the city’s health and well-being, but new ideas and fresh thinking are paramount for the City of the Village of Clarkston to continue and thrive.
I have been encouraged by the questions and transparency offered by the new council members Steven Percival, Rick Detkowski, and Susan Wiley, elected in 2016. For this reason, I will be voting for Scott Reynolds for City Council and hope you will too.
Lorry Mahler

Street runners

Dear Editor,
A Saturday ago, while driving my old pickup into the City of the Village of Clarkston, I had to swerve to avoid an otherwise intelligent looking middle aged couple running in the street.
I wondered to myself, “why are they in the road?” One of our lovely tax supported “safety paths” ran empty along the macadam.
On to Essence on Main for a freshly baked baguette, then back through Depot Park I motored.
Again, I saw this otherwise normal looking man and woman running in the street, forcing me to change lanes to avoid harming them.
And so it goes, seeming adults run in the streets, casually daring three-quarter-ton trucks to dodge them.
Can these be the same people who believe the “Open Meetings Act” and the “Freedom of Information Act” protect their right to know what government does behind closed doors?
I suppose they also believe the “safety path” they refuse to use keeps them safe, as well.
Robert Namowicz
Independence Township

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